Helicopter simulator ready to take off for medical training

The state-of-the-art Medical Training Simulator, believed to be the first of its kind in Australia, was made possible by a $187,000 donation from two extremely generous brothers, John and David Mactaggart of JL Mactaggart Holdings Pty Ltd.

John Mactaggart said they were inspired to make such a large donation after a number of incidents in which friends and family had needed aeromedical services, similar to RACQ LifeFlight Rescue.  

“You never know when you’re going to need it, I think that’s what it’s about, from personal experience we didn’t think we were going to need a rescue helicopter, but we did,” he said.

The simulator is fitted out as a replica of the cabin of an RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter.

It features an internal communications system and functioning, specialist medical equipment.

Instructors can set up emergency scenarios, to recreate high pressure situations medical staff could face in the air, with the trainees “treating” lifelike mannequins, as the sound of real helicopters roars through the cabin.

LifeFlight Training Academy Medical Director Dr Duncan McAuley said the equipment is a game changer for future training. 

“The whole idea of this is that we can practise the high stress, high risk, rarer medical emergencies in as high fidelity environment as we can make, so that when that happens in real life our teams have practised that.”

The convenience of being a stand-alone, mobile machine means training can be carried out anywhere, at any time, without having to take a real helicopter away from operational duty.

The Mactaggart brothers are passionate about the work of LifeFlight and have been supporting the service for years.

“You never know when you, or someone you love, will need the services of RACQ LifeFlight Rescue, so it’s important to support it,” Mr John Mactaggart said. 

The equipment features the brothers’ names on each side, as a permanent tribute to their outstanding contribution. 

LifeFlight Training Academy Medical Director Dr Duncan McAuley said making clinical training as realistic as possible is a crucial part of helping medical professionals adjust to working in a flying Intensive Care Unit. 

“The helicopter environment can be more challenging than a hospital. On top of working in limited space with lots of noise, medical crews have to learn about aviation safety and communications,” Dr McAuley said.

Eight new interactive mannequins have also helped dramatically improve the authenticity of training. 

The Medical Training Simulator will join the Thales AW139 full flight simulator, at the LifeFlight Training Academy, strengthening the centre’s ability to provide experiences across different elements of aeromedical retrieval.